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Jewelry Findings Make Your Jewelry Shine
Jewelry findings are like “the jewel in the crown.” They make your jewelry shine and adds quality and substance to it. But, are all jewelry findings equally fabulous? Of course not. Some are a mere necessity, like crimps or eye pins, while others like a beautiful bail or a gemstone set spacer gives that little extra.
They can add sparks and quality to your jewelry design, or give them an interesting twist. You can get very expensive findings in silver and gold and with precious stones, or buy them at a more affordable price in pewter, brass and copper.
I believe you can get everything you wish for and more when it comes to jewelry findings. But what exactly are jewelry findings? The borders are a little blurred about what is defined as findings and not. I have therefore chosen to give some of them their own pages, like stringing materials and clasps. This is simply because I feel that they deserve a little extra attention. Anyway, lets find out what findings are:
Jump rings are wire shaped into rings, and is, I belive the most used of the jewelry findings. They can be soldered, which means that the ring is closed, or they can be left as they are, which means that you can open and close them as you please. As they are made of wire, they come in different gauges and sizes. The size is measured by the inner diameter, the gauge is the thickness of the wire.
You can buy commercially prepared rings or you can make your own, by coiling wire around a mandrel and then cut or saw the coil into rings. Commercially prepared rings are very uniform and they have a clean cut, that enables the ring to close completely. You can achieve the same if you saw your rings with a hack saw. If you cut them with a pair of flush cutters, only one end gets plain, the other will be slanted. Unless you file the ends, the ring may not close properly, and then not serve its purpose.
Bear in mind when you buy rings or wire, that they also come in soft, half hard and hard. Soft is not so suitable for jump rings, as they will loose shape easily.
Some suppliers of jewelry findings also sell jump rings in other shapes, like oval, hart shaped and triangular. Oval jump rings solves the problem of things sliding through the cut in the ring, since their cut is on the side.
Jump rings is one of the basic ingrediences in jewelry making, but you can actually make jewelry only from jump rings. Chain mail is a jewelry techniques where you weave jump rings into eachother into beautiful patterned metal jewelry. You can read more about chain mail in this tutorial:
Chain Mail - Useful Information To Avoid Frustration
Head- and eyepins:
apart from jump rings,these are some of the most used jewelry findings. A headpins is a piece of wire with a stopper on one end, to prevent beads from
sliding off. You can get them plain with a small flat end, and with designer heads, that can make the pin a beautiful touch to a piece of jewelry.
An eyepin have a loop on the end, and can be used to link different parts or beads together. As with jumprings, you can get eye-and headpins in different gauges, lengths and hardness.
You can make your own head- and eyepins very easily by making a loop on a piece of wire, or by hammering the end flat, bending it, making a swirl etc.
Crimps and crimp covers:
Crimps are small metal tubes or metal pearls that are used to fasten, for instance a clasps, onto a beading wire. The crimp holds the loop on the beading wire securely closed, so that the clasp will not slip of. With a pair of crimp pliers you can squeeze the crimp into a small ball. If you don't have a pair of crimp pliers, you simply squeeze it flat with a pair of chain-nose pliers. When they are flat, the edges can get sharp and not so comfortable to wear, this can be solved by adding a crimp cover.
Crimps and crimp covers comes in a range of sizes and types of metal. Some suppliers of jewelry findings also offers crimp style clasps and crimp tubes with loops and hooks. These can be used instead of a clasp, and are squeezed direct onto the end of the beading wire or stringing material. Choosing the right size of crimps is crucial. If you have a thin wire, the crimp must fit it snugly, or the wire may slide out of the crimp even if it is squeezed tightly.
Fastening a clasp to a beading wire, will wear and tear the wire over time. To avoid this, you can use a wire guardian. With a wire guardian the wire is not in contact with the metal of the clasp, so there will not be no strain on it. In the lot of jewelry findings, this is a very useful one, that can save your necklace or bracelet from disaster.
Earrings come in a huge variety of shapes and types and sizes. The most common ones are earring posts and fish hook- or French hook styled earrings.
1. Earring posts must be secured behind the ear with ear nuts or comfort pads. You stick the earring through the earlobe and fasten it at the back with an ear nut. The front may be decorative as it is, or/and there is a disk to glue or a loop to attach components to it.
2. Fish hooked earrings are made of wire that is shaped like a fishhook with a loop at the front to attach a component or bead. They come in lots of different variations, and you can easily make your own with wire. You slide the hook through the earlobe and it stays in place because of its shape.
3. Lever-backed earrings are secured behind the ear with a hinged back. They have a closed loop to attach components in the front.
4. Kidney earrings have a wire shaped into a hook with an open loop in the front. The wire bends under the earlobe to hook around the back of the earring, securing it. You can attach components to the open loop in the front.
5. Hoop earrings are round and has a straight end to pierce the ear lobe. It can be fastened with ear nuts or, if the wire is hollow inserted into the back of the loop. They can be plain round or have loops along the circle to attach components.
Earring threads are thin chains that slides through the earlobe, often with a component at the front.
Clip-on earrings are for earlobes that are not pierced. They can be clamped on the lobes or have a screw-on back.
You can make your own ear wires also. See how in this tutorial:
Make Your Own Ear Wires
Links have one or more loops or holes on both sides so that they can link two sections of a jewelry piece together. They can be used for all kinds of jewelry and come in a huge variety of shapes, thicknesses and materials. You can make whole necklaces, bracelets or earrings from links only, if you like. Since there are so many to choose from, and that they are so versatile, your imagination is your only limit when it comes to links. Links are one of the jewelry findings that can add a touch of glamour to your jewelry, depending on how they look.
You can make your own links too with wire and a wire jig, or from polymer clay, beads and wire and several other things.
You can see links used to create a bracelet in this tutotial:
Use Links To Build An Elegant Charm Bracelet And Earrings
You can get all kinds of jewelry chains, from the most expensive to the very cheap. They can be bought in bulk, where you buy per meter, or finished lengths with a clasps attached. What kind of chain you choose for your jewelry projects depends on what you want to make. If you want to make something with charms, you may want a chain with loops that you can attach the charms to. If you are looking for something to wear a pendant on, you may want one without to big loops.
Chains can be very decorative elements in all kinds of jewelry designs. It can be only a small part of- or be the dominant part of your jewelry.
A bail is mostly used to attach a pendant to a piece of jewelry. It consists of to prongs that are squeezed together on each side of the hole in the pendant. The chain or stringing material goes through the top opening of the bail. This way you have the pendant facing forward, instead of sideways, as it would have been if the chain went through the hole in the pendant.
You can get bails in all kinds of shapes, sizes and types of metal. Some are simple and plain while others are small pieces of art that can enhance your pendant very nicely.
You can also get bails that are folded over on each side of the pendant, but must be glued on.
Bails doesn't have to be used only with pendants. They can give a beautiful touch to a pair of earrings, or a bracelet where the gemstones or beads are fastened to a chain with bails. Again, let your fantasy loose. There are really no rules and not even the sky is the limit.
When you use fishing line, silk thread or softer materials for stringing jewelry or beading, you can't use a wire guardian or crimp to fasten the clasp. Therefore there are knot concealers to get, that are shaped like a clam shell and are closed around the knot. They have a hook at the end that goes through the clasps loop and fastens the clasp to the jewelry.
You can get knot concealers that are beautifully decorated and shaped, or plain. They also come in gold, silver, copper, brass and everything your heart desires.
To attach a clasp to a cord, you can of course coil a piece of wire around the end and make your own clasp that way, but unless you are really skilled, it is difficult to get it nice. Add a cord end instead. They work a little like crimps and are squeezed onto the tip of the cord. They have a loop in the end on which you can fasten your clasp, and they give a nice and professional touch to your jewelry. Add a little glue to the end of the cord before you attach the cord end, to prevent it from falling off with time. The glue also prevents some cords from fraying.
You can see cord ends used in this tutorial: Blue Breeze Necklace
As with all the other jewelry findings, you can get spacer bars in all sort of sizes, design and prices. They are used to separate strings of beads from each other, so that they run parallel and don't intertwine. You can get spacer bars in metal, but also in bone, gemstone, plastic and several other materials.
Cones are mostly used to cover up the gathering of multiple chains or strings of beads before the clasp is attached. They can give a very beautiful ending to a piece of jewelry.
Cones comes in many sizes. Some are plain but other are richly decorated, and are indeed jewelry findings that represent the "jewel in the crone". You can get them short and wide or long and slim and in all price classes. They can also be used as bead caps, or as a component in a pendant, with a fringe and more.
About metal findings:
One thing to bear in mind when it comes to jewelry findings, is that if you use silver, brass or copper, they will tarnish over time. This in it self will not do any harm to the other components in the jewelry, but the cleaning might. Gemstones in particular may be damaged by tarnish removers, as may polymer clay beads. Test out the tarnish remover or jewelry cleaner on a small piece first, before you clean the whole jewelry piece.
I actually use a rock tumbler to remover tarnish from my silver jewelry. It takes only 30 minutes, which is enough to get the silver shiny, but not long enough to do any damage to the other components.
There are now jewelry cleaning machines to be bought, that cleans the jewelry with vibrations. I have not tried one yet, but might in time.
I have chosen to leave out pin-backs, eyeglass holders, kilt pins and stick pins, simply because there isn't much to them. The one is very like the other. Just know that they are there, and you can get them if you need them from several jewelry suppliers.
Well, that were the jewelry findings, go crazy with them and make some stunning jewelry:)
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